A Crab and A Night Blooming Cereus

We have had almost incessant rain for over a week here in Fort Lauderdale.  Walking when streets are flooded gets to be impossible but finally, yesterday, the sun came out, we got no rain and I was able to eke out enough time to walk.  In the wash of evening light, with so much scrubbed clean by the rain, the world was new again and I had to stop and stare twice.  The first time, this is what I saw:

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The second time, it was a night blooming cereus that took my breath away.

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Sherod has had a night blooming cereus plant for years, the gift from a dear friend in Memphis who had tended her plant from adolesence, when her grandmother in Alabama gave her a cutting of her plant.  If you are not familiar with this plant, the blossoms open at night and only last for a few hours.  They are fragrant and exotic and crazy beautiful in an absolutely fleeting moment.  Don’t blink or you might miss it.  On my rambles, I go by a house that has a jungle of a front yard with several cereus plants. Yesterday, it was light enough and I was mindful enough to notice.

This Sunday, the Gospel passage is about Mary and Martha.  We are so tempted to make that split: action vs contemplation, busy-ness vs attentiveness.  More than ever, it is precisely in the action and the vigorous business of walking, that I find the moments of an ‘eternal now’.



3 thoughts on “A Crab and A Night Blooming Cereus

  1. Ah – being vs.doing: are we who we are because of what we do, or do we do what we do because of who we are? Is the essence of our being the cause of what we do, or is what we do the cause of the essence of our being? Who knew the chicken-and-egg question had so many variations? Some of this mystery is I believe given to us in the very name God gives Himself in His response to Moses at the burning bush – “I AM”

    But what does that mean? From EFM, I became aware that no translation captures the fullness of that answer, because, at least as I understand it, the name in its Hebraic mystery includes dimensions of causation and change, yet also immortality and eternity. So as I struggled with that in my English-speaking mind, I came up with this (surely imperfect) English expression for some of the meaning that I hear in I AM: I am what I am, and what I will be; I am the cause of what I am, and what I will be. God alone is His own cause – uncreated – that is His nature, and that makes Him eternally Other from us, who are created. How can we come to Him then? We do best when we strive, in our being and doing, to be His mirror. A very narrow path indeed, but it is the Way, as He has told us.


  2. PS – in this context, I would suggest that the story of Martha and Mary teaches that between being and doing, it is better to start with being – that is, with the mind. Starting with the doing is the hard way to go – the way of trial and error.

  3. PPS – and in the story of Martha and Mary, gender roles are transcended in ways that, because of my fortunate circumstance, I failed to mention – Mary was sitting at the feet of the Rabi, a role traditionally reserved for very bright boys.

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